Music, Dance School Will Highlight Gaelic Roots Event

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Boston College will celebrate its Irish heritage once again when it hosts the week-long Gaelic Roots III Music and Dance Summer School and Festival from June 22-28. The event promises to attract some of the world's finest performers and teachers of Celtic music and dance.

Sponsored by the Irish Studies Program and organized by part-time faculty member Seamus Connolly (Music), himself a master fiddler, the festival will feature a full schedule of Celtic music and dance workshops, lectures and recitals. Beginners can try their hand at the penny whistle or fiddle, while more experienced musicians polish their skills or acquire new ones, and all will have a chance to practice what they have learned at jam sessions in local Irish pubs.

Capping the week will be a Master's Concert on June 28 at 8 p.m. in Robsham Theater, where the festival instructors and other special guests will perform. Brian O'Donovan, host of the "Celtic Sojourn" radio program on WGBH-FM, will serve as master of ceremonies. Admission is $20, and is open to the public.

The previous Gaelic Roots festivals and Celtic music events on campus have proven popular, Connolly said, and fostered international interest in this year's event. Through Gaelic Roots, Connolly said, he and the other organizers aim to turn Boston College into a mecca for the Celtic performing arts. A double compact disc - "Boston College Irish Studies Program Celebrates Gaelic Roots" - featuring performances from the first two festivals will be released in time for this year's event, he added.

Connolly said the festival will provide an "immersion" in traditional music and dance from Ireland, Cape Breton and Scotland, with many instructors traveling from Ireland for the program.

"The expertise they have attained on their particular instruments or dance specialties will be matched only by their skill as teachers," Connolly said. "They are, simply put, the best at what they do in the world."

Step-dancing instruction will be offered by Tony Nolan, who has coached numerous All-Ireland champions; Michael Smith, a noted choreographer who heads a Boston dance academy; and Donncha O Muineachain, who specializes in rural set dances.

A who's-who of top Celtic performers will lead the music workshops, including Mary Bergin on tin whistle; Jackie Daly on accordion; Charlie Lennon on fiddle and piano; Tommy Hayes on the bodhran, or drum; Ben Lennon and Buddy MacMaster on fiddle; Joe McKenna on the Uilleann pipes, or Irish bagpipes; Antoinette McKenna on harp; Zan McLeod on guitar; Gerry O'Connor on banjo; Paul Groff on concertina; and vocalist Mairin Ui Cheide, accomplished in the ancient Gaelic sean-nos singing style.

Beginners can take classes in fiddle, penny whistle, flute and step-dancing, while intermediate and advanced-level instruction is available for vocals and a wide range of instruments. A five-student minimum is required for the beginner classes, however, so those interested are urged to register early to ensure sufficient enrollments.

Program registrants also will enjoy a number of off-campus events in Boston, including the jam sessions, a Boston Harbor dance cruise and a Red Sox game.

A detailed schedule of festival events and fees can be found at the Irish Studies Program's World Wide Web page . For more information, contact Connolly at ext.2-0490, or by e-mail at

Return to March 13 menu

Return to Chronicle home page